Preparation is key to performing well in an interview but it can be tricky to prepare when you are unsure what you will be asked. This article looks at the best answers to the 10 most commonly asked interview questions.
1. Tell me about yourself.
It’s a simple enough question which means it’s easy to fall into the trap of not practicing an answer for it. If you are currently employed or have previous work experience, give a brief overview of your employment history and how this relates to the job you are interviewing for. If this is going to be your first job, talk about your studies and any extra-curricular activities you are involved in, but don’t be afraid to talk about your life outside of working or studying! Aspects of your personality, such as being a creative thinker, and your hobbies or interests, like playing a sport, are all great to talk about if you can show why they would make you an asset to the company.
2. What made you apply for the role?
This is another core interview question that will most likely come up in any role you apply for. It could also be phrased as “Why do you want to work here?” and it is all about making sure your answer highlights how much you know about the company. Do some research into their work, ethics and values and come up with a few points as to what makes them unique. Then you can discuss why these appeal to you personally and how you can contribute professionally to the business.
3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
With this question, the interviewer is looking for honesty. Self-awareness and the ability to identify which areas you excel in and which areas you need support are important skills to have. They don’t want you to list buzzwords with no explanation as to why they are a strength or weakness, so take some time to think of a few high-quality responses. Give an example of your strengths – if you work well under pressure, talk about a time where this really helped you complete an assignment. When it comes to weaknesses, discuss how you are working to improve them. For example, if you struggle leading on projects, demonstrate the steps you are taking to get better at this.
4. What makes you a good fit for the role?
A good answer to this question should cover how your knowledge and skills fit the job description, with concrete examples of your experience and how they relate to the duties you would undertake in the role. Talk about your passions and career development too, but make sure to illustrate how these will benefit the business – don’t just talk about how the job could support your career, talk about how your desire to grow and improve professionally would be a positive thing for the company. Lastly, discuss how your working style (are you happy to work independently or more of a collaborator?) and personality would be a great fit for the team and the company’s culture.
5. Tell us about a challenge you encountered in the past and how you dealt with it.
With interview questions like this, don’t worry if you have never experienced a challenge within a workplace setting, you can always use an example from another aspect of your life, such as your studies or a volunteering placement. Good examples include if you have ever struggled to manage a high volume of work, experienced problems communicating with a colleague or teammate, or had to present in front of a group of people when you are not a confident public speaker. Although it’s one of the trickier interview questions that could come up, if you talk about a challenge where you had to utilise a skill that’s listed in the job description in order to overcome it, it’s the perfect chance to showcase that you have what they’re looking for.
6. What is your proudest achievement to date?
Another commonly asked interview question, this could also take the form of “What is your career highlight?” or something similar. Here the interviewer is looking to find out more about what matters to you, so feel free to use an example from your studies or work, but you could also talk about any charitable causes or competitions that you’ve been involved in. Discuss what you achieved and show your enthusiasm by talking them through why you decided to strive for that achievement and the work that went into it along the way.
7. Describe yourself in three words or phrases.
Interviewers often use a question like this to get a sense of how you would fit into the company or team. It’s less about your practical skills and more about who you are as an individual, so include a mix of what you excel at or enjoy, the way you work and how you interact with others. For example, “I’m good with numbers, self-motivated and friendly” gives an indication of your interests and skills, how you approach your work and an aspect of your personality.
8. Describe your working style.
The good news is that there is no right or wrong answer to this question as the interviewer is mainly looking to see whether you are compatible with the company’s culture. Have another read through the job description and take note of the type of candidate they are looking for, whether that is someone with attention to detail, the ability work in a fast-paced environment, or a good communicator. It’s important to be honest about your preferred working style, rather than giving the response you think they want to hear. For example, don’t say you enjoy working on a variety of projects at all once if you prefer to focus on one assignment at a time, as the position might not be the right fit for you.
9. If you were an animal, what would you be?
These off-beat questions are less about your response and more about how you deal with unexpected situations. The interviewer probably isn’t expecting you to have a perfect answer but try to pick an animal that reflects your strengths or personality. For example, wolves run in packs so they could demonstrate you are a team player, dogs are enthusiastic and quick learners, and big cats like lions take their time to plan a strategy that will deliver the best results.
10. Do you have any questions for me?
Asking questions at the end of the interview is a good way to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role. Enquiring about what a typical day would look like, whether there are opportunities for further development or training, as well as what your possible future team and colleagues are like are all questions that show you are keen to perform well, should you be offered the position. Take a look at our article on the best questions to ask at the end of an interview to find out more.
For more useful tips on how to prepare for your interview, make sure you visit the career advice section of our website.
Last updated on 13 December 2022Share this article